It’s made some process easier. Or they can watch streaming videos on their TV. Something that’s all about making life more convienient.
However, for me, I’ve had a piece of technology truly change my life.
And my ex-wife’s. And my eldest son’s. And my parents. My ex’s parents.
And everyone else who knows Eli.
If you’re new to my blog, Eli is my youngest son. He has autism and one of his challenges has been communication. I can remember times that Eli wanted to tell us something and just couldn’t bring out the words. The frustrations. He would get angry because he knew what he wanted to tell us and his body stopped him from doing it. I knew my heart breaking because I knew the hell he was experiencing being trapped in a way inside his own body.
Then came the iPad.
My folks bought an iPad for Eli (and one for Dale) because they had read online about how iPads had helped autistic children. I and my ex were all for it, because we’re all for anything that’s been proven to help kids like Eli and also (being honest) we weren’t paying for it because we couldn’t afford it.
It’s turned out to be the best thing ever bought for either of my kids. (Way to go, Grandma and Papa Jim!)
The plan was that the iPad would be used for educational purposes only…but that quickly went by the wayside. There were educational programs for sure, and Eli would play them, but eventually YouTube was added and Eli would go to websites about video games and other things that an 8 year old (at the time) would like to see.
And then something happened.
Eli would start downloading books. He would watch videos on YouTube of people reading children’s books. He would want to play educational games that had a “video game” style layout and he would play them until he mastered them.
And he started talking a lot more. And he started interacting with us a lot more. The shell of autism around him that he worked so hard to crack suddenly began cracking itself.
Now, the iPad is four years old and it’s been running virtually all day every day. It’s off when he’s at school…and usually when he’s sleeping. (Sometimes it’s a night light.) He takes it everywhere with him and it’s his portal to the world. He’s found places for us to go visit like museums and other places because he was searching for things that he thought he would enjoy.
As you can imagine from something running almost 24/7 for four years, it’s starting to get a little slow. Eli has is loaded with programs and pictures and books. The memory is completely full. It still works, and Eli has the patience to roll with it, but it’s not anywhere as fast as it was when the iPad showed up years ago. But it’s still Eli’s portal to the world and even tonight as I typed this before bed he’s coming over and showing me a funny video about a kid who imagined was trapped inside “the land of giant bunnies again!”
Someday, I’ll buy him a new iPad to replace this one. Some of his programs don’t work anymore. Some run so slow he can’t really use them. But even though I know he needs a new one, I’m going to miss this iPad when it’s time to go finally arrives because this piece of electronics brought my son out of his shell and helped him show us the boy within.
I doubt that Steve Jobs or Tim Cook or any of the other Apple folks had that in mind when they released the iPad. But I’m thankful they released it.
(And the ironic thing is Eli’s dad, Mr. I Love Apple Products, doesn’t even have an iPad himself. Hey, they’re not cheap!)